You can literally eat your way to optimum health and achieve your ideal weight by following my wholefood plant-based vegan dietary snack and meal recommendations.
Eat at Least Three Meals a Day
Never skip breakfast or lunch because the metabolic rate naturally peaks at noon and decreases after that, so the food you eat at night is far more likely to be stored as excess fat compared to the food eaten earlier in the day. It’s best to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day by eating frequent, smaller meals. I highly recommend a snack around 4:00 PM, right during the time when blood sugar, mood, and serotonin tend to plummet. This vegan snack can also keep you from overeating at night when you get home.
My advice to all my clients and students is to feel free to snack on healthy plant-based mini-meals as your snacks throughout the day. That is the answer. It is almost impossible to overeat or to eat too many calories when following a wholefood plant-based diet.
Focus on Portion Size, Not Calories
Concentrate on eating the highest-quality food available in smaller portions. Cup your two hands in front of you. That’s how big your stomach capacity is. Limit your intake to no more than that at each meal or snack. Overeating in general, regardless of the food, is associated with overproduction of insulin.
Don’t Snack on Simple Carbohydrate
If you eat a lot of sugar or snack on refined carbohydrates such as bread, sweets, biscuits, etc., you are prone to high blood sugar or insulin resistance (as about 75 percent of us are).
Insulin also drives your kidneys to retain fluid in a way that is similar to the kind of fluid overload that is seen in coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Excess insulin, therefore, poses a significant risk for hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity, and high cholesterol levels, not just diabetes. Fluid retention from insulin is the reason why susceptible individuals can easily put on three or four pounds after a single large refined carbohydrate-rich meal.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is responsible for ferrying glucose from the bloodstream into our cells, where is it used for fuel. Good health depends upon our body’s ability to make and utilise just the right amount of insulin to keep our blood sugar at optimal levels and our metabolism working normally.
Consumption of refined carbohydrates results in an immediate surge in blood sugar. This triggers the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin to process blood sugar. Every cell in the body has insulin receptors on the surface. These allow insulin to “open the door” so that glucose can enter the cell. But, over time, when blood sugar levels continue to be too high, the insulin receptors lose their ability to respond to this abnormal metabolic burden. They become insensitive, and a condition known as Insulin Resistance develops, in which more and more insulin is poured out, to less and less effect. If you constantly have insulin running around in your bloodstream you will not burn fat.
Once you understand the concept of eating healthy plant-based vegan snacks you can eat healthfully just about anytime throughout the day, and you can experiment to invent your own delicious pleasures while improving your health.
Snack on Water: Yes, Seriously
Pure water! Too many avoid water in the mistaken belief that they will feel bloated, and then they end up dehydrated. You need water to help your body eliminate the breakdown products of fat, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
I suggest to all my clients that they drink two glasses in the morning on rising, two before lunch and two before dinner. Drinking whilst eating inhibits the absorption of nutrients from our food and dilutes the digestive enzymes. The stomach requires hydration to break down food; otherwise, it takes water from other areas of the body, which in turn causes us to be dehydrated. Plus, water fills you up, is a perfect snack, and is amazing for your skin.
This one is a no brainer, but bringing raw, organic fruit to work is one of the easiest solutions available to us. Apples, pears, grapes, bananas, oranges, etc. are all great snacks as they are naturally sweet – but not filled with unnecessary additives. They also are low-calorie, so if you’re trying to lose weight, they won’t negatively impact your progress. Body fat is loaded with insulin receptors, and the fatter you get, the more insulin it takes to get blood sugar into the cells.
In general, insulin and blood sugar levels stay normal on a diet of unrefined whole foods that include complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains, legumes, lentils, all types of beans, vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, seeds, nuts and some fruit. Vegan snacks from all of these food groups are perfect. Try my adzuki bean bites – quick and easy to make – they last for weeks in the fridge and also freeze well.
Chocolate Adzuki Bean Snacks
Why adzuki beans for dessert? Apart from tasting amazing, adzuki beans (also known as red beans) are high in protein and fibre. It is a low-fat plant food source and rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Their high soluble fibre can help to stabilise cholesterol levels, improve digestive health and keep you feeling full for longer. All my clients and students love them.
1 cup of cooked adzuki beans
1 cup of pecans
8 mejdool dates (stones removed)
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Desiccated coconut for rolling
Blend all the ingredients (except the coconut) in a food processor until you achieve a creamy texture. You may have to stop and push the mixture down with your spatula a few times. Take a heaped teaspoon and roll into balls. Drop the balls into a bowl filled with the coconut and shake until well covered. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and enjoy. They also freeze well. Truly scrumptious and healthy. Makes 24 balls.
A long-time vegan, lover of animals, nature and life and passionate about human ecology. As an eternal optimist, increasing the number of people worldwide to switch to a wholefood, plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle is her mission. Together with her husband Bill Tara, they have created The Human Ecology Project.